Monday, March 16, 2009

Free flowing writing experiment #2

This is an experiment.

This is the second of what may eventually become a whole series of essays on the subject of writing, and specifically the writing process as perceived by one who writes.

I say "one who writes" as I am not ready to call myself a full writer, any more than I am ready to call myself a full blogger. Most of what I write down here is in the form of questions and idle wonderings. It is not opinion or comment or theorising. Inasmuch as it is an attempt to make sense of the world it is preliminary to all these.

I suspect the key part of the writing process I have yet to fully acquire is the process of refinement. I intend this series to be both an exploration and a trial, to see how I might develop this skill.

What do I mean by refinement?

Picture the raw input of any process. It could be labour or energy or earth or wood or clay. Now picture the process by which these commodities are converted into something more valuable.

In writing the valuable output is a well written piece. In writing the raw input is largely other writing, thoughts, ideas, experiences, other people, yourself, your beliefs and ponderings and habits and the minutiae of your daily life.

Inbetween the raw input and the valuable output there are several processes of refinement. I generally lack the patience or obsessive compulsion required to persue a writing project beyond a single iteration. This is a problem I am working on remedying.

This industrial process whereby the raw and unrefined output of my mind is distilled onto a page or screen is itself subdivided between drafts and even between the moment the words are instantiated in the real world and I travel back to the end of the sentance to remove them.

Someone, I think it was Terry Pratchett, said writing went something like that. You fill your mind with stuff and wait until it all bubbles over and you start writing. He then qualified it by pointing out that this didn't necessarily imply any kind of verbal diarrhea1 and that the process of refinement was equally important.

If this is correct then blogging might not be such a good idea: you venting valuable material and not bothering to refine it.

Or perhaps it is good practice.

In any case I need to stem and control the flood of half formed ideas, plucking the nuggets prose out of the flow of verbiage.

The intention here is to explore how my writing process works.

1:Impossible to spell first time correctly. Also a good name for a blog. Verbal Diarrhea. Doubly annoying as the spell checker doesn't immediately identify my mangled attempt at spelling it correctly. Wouldn't it be good to have a blog that was called something like Verbal Diarrhea but was purposefully spelt incorrectly.

Perhaps I should write a list of good qualities to have in a blog title, but that would be time consuming and frankly rather beside the point. I'm sure it's already been done and better elsewhere.

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